Cranford baseball comes back to stun Steinert 6-5 and win for the first time in the Roselle Park Dad’s Club Invitational; Trotter produces tying RBI-hit and Ravatier the game-winner

Sophomore righty Feeney - in a 4-inning effort - earns the mound victory in relief

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - From left, leadoff batter Tommy Trotter, cleanup batter Matt Ravatier and relief pitcher Thomas Feeney helped lift Cranford to a 6-5 comeback win over Steinert in the 6th annual Roselle Park Dad's Club Baseball Invitational. Trotter produced the game-tying hit, Ravatier the game-winning hit and Feeney was the winning pitcher.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – From left, leadoff batter Tommy Trotter, cleanup batter Matt Ravatier and relief pitcher Thomas Feeney helped lift Cranford to a 6-5 comeback win over Steinert in the 6th annual Roselle Park Dad’s Club Baseball Invitational. Trotter produced the game-tying hit, Ravatier the game-winning hit and Feeney was the winning pitcher.

 

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI -Cranford senior third baseman John Oblachinski had a single, a run and an RBI and reached base safely two out of three times.

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI -Tommy Trotter (No. 1 leading off third) scored the game-winning run vs. Steinert.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI -Tommy Trotter (No. 1 leading off third) scored the game-winning run vs. Steinert.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Cranford won its first Dad's Club game in five tries.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Cranford won its first Dad’s Club game in five tries.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - The Dad's Club of Roselle Park is celebrating 80 years of service.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – The Dad’s Club of Roselle Park is celebrating 80 years of service.

ROSELLE PARK – Heading into the bottom of the seventh of Saturday’s Roselle Park Dad’s Club Baseball Invitational clash against South Jersey power Steinert, Cranford had batter Nos. 6, 7 and 8 due up.

Up to that point they were a combined 0-for-6.

If the Cougars, down three runs, were to pull off a comeback victory or at least tie the game to send it to extra innings, those batters had to come through.

With the game on the line all three did in a very big way.

Sam Scher worked a full count walk. Lefty swinging Mike Gamba drilled an opposite field single to left and then both runners moved over a base to second and third following the game’s first error, made by the left fielder when the ball got past him following Gamba’s hit.

Then Joe Norton lofted a fly ball the other way to right field that the right fielder could not see, blinded by the sun. The ball dropped and as a result Cranford’s courtesy runner scored, with Gamba moving to third and Norton to second with an opposite field RBI-double.

Now Cranford was set up, down by only two and with the tying runs on base with nobody out.

The Cougars were doing this against Steinert’s second relief pitcher, Austin Constantini, who played shortstop the first six innings.

Boy how a game can change that quickly.

Cranford senior third baseman John Oblachinski, who will continue playing football at Georgetown, drove in his team’s next run to pull the Cougars to within one with a ground out to second as Gamba scored. Oblachinski was 1-for-1 with a single and a hit-by-pitch up to that point as Cranford’s No. 9 batter.

With Norton now on third, leadoff batter Tommy Trotter – on a 0-2 count – singled hard up the middle to tie things up with his second hit.

“I caught a big break,” said Trotter, who thought he might see a changeup after being down two strikes in the count. “I was able to adjust to a fastball and hit it.”

Lefty swinging Jack McCaffery followed with his second hit, a single to center to put runners on first and third.

That knocked out Constantini, with John Mastrangelo, the designated hitter and another righty, taking over on the mound. After McCaffery stole second, Albert Gargiulo was intentionally walked to load the bases as Steinert played for a force at home.

It didn’t happen.

On a 2-1 pitch, Cranford cleanup batter Matt Ravatier was looking fastball and got one. He blasted a shot over the center fielder’s head to drive in Trotter and send Cranford to a somewhat-improbable 6-5 comeback victory.

“Once Albert walked, I knew we would get the job done,” Ravatier said. “Ahead 2-1 in the count, I just sat fastball thinking he would want to throw the pitch near the plate and not get further behind.”

Like Trotter (2-for-3) and McCaffery (2-for-4), Ravatier also banged out two hits, including an opposite field double in the first. Gargiulo was Cranford’s other batter with two hits, producing two singles on a 2-for-3 day.

Cranford scored all of its runs in the final two innings, getting the game to 3-2 with its first two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Steinert came back with two insurance runs in the top of the seventh for a 5-2 advantage, but it ultimately was not enough.

“Down 3-2 you can do different things, but down 5-2 you have to change your approach,” Ravatier said. “You need baserunners first and that’s what we got.”

The only time Cranford led the game was after the final pitch was thrown and Ravatier delivered his game-winning RBI-single.

“This was a huge team win,” said Ravatier, who was 2-for-3. “It was a full team effort.”

It took Cranford six seasons to win a Dad’s Club game despite all of its success. The Cougars are now 1-4 in the event, with last year’s game against Steinert rained out.

As a matter of fact, going into Saturday’s game – including this year’s 5-0 start – Cranford’s record since the start of the 2009 season was 116-21 (.847), including 0-4 in Dad’s Club games.

“Steinert is a great program,” Cranford head coach and 1987 RosellePark graduate Dennis McCaffery said. “In the sixth inning we got some good pitches to hit and in the seventh we had some hits that found holes.”

Cranford is now 6-0, while Steinert is 5-2. Cranford won at Union 4-2 Friday, while Steinert defeated Lawrence 10-1 at home.

Both teams banged out 11 hits and made just one error, both miscues coming in the seventh inning. All 11 Steinert hits were singles, including three by Mastrangelo and two by Nick LaBelle.

“Steinert is a solid team, so this is a big one for us that can give us that much more confidence moving forward,” Trotter said.

Earning the mound victory in relief was sophomore right hander Thomas Feeney, who pitched the final four innings. Feeney got in and out of jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before giving up two runs on one hit in the seventh.

Driving in Steinert’s final two runs were No. 9 batter Shane Plunkett on a sacrifice fly to center and leadoff batter Constantini on an RBI-single to right, just over the glove of Cranford second baseman Gargiulo.

Feeney allowed two runs, only one of them earned, on four hits, while striking out one and walking five.

“I tried to throw strikes and let my team in back of me make plays,” Feeney said. “They made some great plays behind me.

“I got my changeup down most of the game. When they hit it they hit it hard, but right at our fielders. I was disappointed to give up the two runs in the seventh, but I knew that we could still come back.”

Cranford starter James Campbell also pitched well in a three-inning-plus stint, giving up three runs on seven hits and walking one batter in a 46-pitch effort.

Feeney got his money’s worth on the mound, throwing 90 pitches.

“Both of our pitchers gave gutsy efforts and threw strikes,” McCaffery said.

Steinert gave sophomore right hander Kyle Muller a 2-0 lead off the bat, scoring twice in the top of the first. Anthony Peroni, the No. 3 batter, drove in a run with a single to center and then Mastrangelo followed with an opposite field RBI-single to left.

Steinert made it 3-0 in the top of the fourth when Constantini drove in LaBelle on a 4-6 fielder’s choice.

Steinert left 12 men on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings.

Muller, in 5 and 1/3 innings that included an economical 69 pitches, allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out two, walking none and hitting two batters.

Cranford’s bottom of the sixth began with Oblachinski getting hit by a pitch in the back. He then moved to second when Trotter managed to reach base on a bunt, beating Muller’s throw to first.

McCaffery – in a 10-pitch at-bat that went three straight balls, two consecutive strikes and then four straight foul balls – moved the runners over when he grounded out to second.

Gargiulo then singled to center to drive home Oblachinski. Trotter scored on a sacrifice fly RBI to center slugged by Ravatier, who finished with two RBI, one each in the sixth and seventh innings.

 

 

6TH ANNUAL ROSELLE PARK DAD’S CLUB

BASEBALL INVITATIONAL

FINAL SCOREBOARD:

 

Friday, April 11

Ramapo 4, Marist 2

St. Joe’s, Metuchen 6, Gloucester Tech 0

 

Saturday, April 12

Johnson 2, Monroe 1

Cranford 6, Steinert 5

Highland Regional 11, Metuchen 2

Roselle Park 12, Dunellen 2

 

Sunday, April 13

Union Catholic 12, Columbia 3

Middlesex 6, New Providence 5

St. Peter’s Prep 11, Bridgewater-Raritan 9

Bernards 6, Newark Academy 4

 

 

6TH ANNUAL ROSELLE PARK DAD’S CLUB

BASEBALL INVITATIONAL GAME AT RP

STEINERT (5-2)                 2   0   0     1   0   0     2 –  5  11  1

CRANFORD (6-0)              0   0   0     0   0   2     4 –  6  11  1

 

WINNING PITCHER: Thomas Feeney, in relief.

LOSING PITCHER: Austin Constantini, in relief.

 

SINGLES: Steinert – John Mastrangelo (3), Nick Labelle (2), Austin Constantini, Anthony Peroni, Ryan Scholly, Adam Koval, Chris Scordo, Shane Plunkett. Cranford – Tommy Trotter (2), Jack McCaffery (2), Albert Gargiulo (2), Matt Ravatier, Mike Gamba, John Oblachinski.

 

DOUBLES: Steinert – None. Cranford – Matt Ravatier, Joe Norton.

 

TRIPLES: Steinert – None. Cranford – None.

 

HOME RUNS: Steinert – None. Cranford – None.

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